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  1. StillSinging

    My journey to be off psych drugs

    I always took my medication without thinking really. I had a psychotic episode (due to insomnia, stress, and anxiety most likely) after Christmas in 2007. I was 13. I had been taking Lexapro for a few months. My M.D. prescribed it for me. I don't quite remember why. I think I might probably have been depressed and anxious. I only now realize that taking the Lexapro could very well have caused the insomnia and resultant delusions. Anyway, I had a breakdown. I was seen by a psych. She (Dr. S.) prescribed Lamotrigine. It seemed to quell the delusions. I was back at school, medicated and delusion free. Over the years I developed fatigue, irritability, and apathy. I kept taking the drugs. For fatigue, I was prescribed Bupropion (Wellbutrin). I can't remember if it helped or not. I did develop hypomanic episodes at some point which further supported my bipolar 2 diagnosis. I would also have bouts of depression. Not the crying kind. Just apathy and mild anhedonia. I say mild because I still did some things I loved such as piano, art, singing. I did eventually lose my passion for art though. It showed up now and then sometimes. I always was told by my mother "It will get better", and "It won't always be this way." It didnt comfort me much. Though, looking back, it did get better. Eventually. It took around a decade. But I'm not off meds yet. I moved with my parents to a smaller comfy house in 2014 and joined our local Orthodox Church, met some loving, supportive people and made a really good friend. It did get better. But I still didn't know that there was an alternative for taking medication. I took my meds. I needed them. Or I thought I did. So did my mother. Now, my mother really has been with me all way. She's taking psych drugs too since I was in first grade for depression and anxiety. I went to 2 mental institutes. Thankfully never the hospital psych ward. I know a lot of you on here have been. From what I hear it's not fun and can be traumatic. I remember the people I met at the institutes. Broken, struggling people trying to get by and looking for a little hope. I connected with them. I still miss them and hope they're still fighting. I have a long story so I'll cut it up some in chunks. This is my first post. I'll write later about my experience at college (traumatic) and other things. I have some funny memories too so I'll put those in there as well. Don't give up! Anyone's welcome to share their experiences and stories too. -StillSinging
  2. Journaling has always been a good tool for me. This morning in one of my daily readers it said 'no matter how preposterous you think a fear might be write it down on paper. Look at it, dissect it and journal towards a possible solution. So I made a list. Fortunately I did have the time to journal and read. It helped a great deal. I get stuck inside my own head. Why I don't know. Is it how I am wired, does it stem from medications, is it an anxiety symptom, is it on-going stress???? I am suggesting this as a way to turn things around in the morning or anytime. Or at least that is how it works for me. I pray for the day when I won't need this tool on a daily basis..... Journaling is a way for me to put things down in an uncensored manner. Problem and then the Solution. Sometimes I make a Gratitude list. Hugs
  3. Hi all. I have been reading many post on this excellent forum for a while now. Time to say hello and start my own journal thread. A bit about me Don’t know if my story is very unique... I am broken. I have been on meds for a long time. I have tried to quit several times, failed and failed again. Struggle with low self esteem and dysthymia for as far as I can remember, but somehow still manage to keep my life together (at least it looks like that from the outside). There is a lot of negativity and dysfunction in me, and I have a have been in different kinds of therapy on and off. No real problems with anxiety before starting to taper the meds. During my more brighter moments I’m also very very happy for having a decent career at work, an loving girlfriend, a few really good friends, my cats, basic health and many other things that are important in life. The medication I was put on Venlafaxine in 2000 at age 33 after a separation that triggered both my first panic attacks and clinical depression. I needed the medication then, for perhaps 1 year it saved my life. Continued taking it out of habit and lack of good support from any doctor that knew something. During the 14 years on meds my life was actually quite ok. Most things worked fine, I was balanced and sane. No anxiety, no depression, stable mood and a quite active life. So why change a winning team? I wanted to try to stop taking meds when I realized that I had not cried at all for ten years, not even when one of my beloved cats died, that my life simply was not containing any real highs and no real lows. I somehow missed out on important emotional parts by taking SSRI/SNRI. The more I read on the subject, the more convinced I got that I really have to quit. Still, depression runs deep in my family, and I might end up having to take a low dose for the rest of my life. The plan is of course to not take any meds at all and deal with my problems in therapy instead. I have much more faith in talk therapy than in long term medication. Others probably see me as a rather calm person, but I’m also very restless, uncertain and often not patient enough for the slow pace that discontinuing psych meds demand. Sometimes do to to big drops or other drastic changes in meds or life. I know it's not good for me, but I can't help myself. SSRI is clearly the devil and benzodiazepine is his/hers evil partner in crime! The antidepressants keep my demons in their cages and benzo soothes my restless soul like nothing else. I have very mixed emotions to the medication. I don’t like to be dependent on them but the last 14 years I have always felt better on meds than off. Perhaps that has to do with the lack of patience. My current tapering project I started my current tapering from 150 mg Venlafaxine (Effexor) in April 2014. Have tried to follow all the tips on keeping it slow, stable and safe. There has been a lot of stress with traveling, new job, major illness in the family, big changes in my important volunteer engagement and a new love relationship during this year. So far I have managed to handle all these changes and the withdrawal effects without falling apart. There is still too much stress but compared to before tapering I’m trying to keep my ambitions fairly low and try to limit all activities and persons that generates stress. If withdrawal becomes worse I guess I will have to lower my ambitions even more. As you all know, lots of time and energy goes into dealing with waves, new emotions, mood swings and increased anxiety. In March 2015 I was down to 30 mg Venlafaxine per day, with some very clear withdrawal issues. This might be a too fast taper, but that was the way I did it. The withdrawal got a bit worse, and I slowly started started self medicating Diazepam (Valium) on a daily basis. However, I wasn’t feeling bad enough to reinstate or increase the Venlafaxine dosage. Two months later, in May 2015, I felt stable enough to start bridging to liquid Fluoxetine (Prozac) during 1 month. Hope that the long half life of the Fluoxetine will make the final steps down to zero manageable. I had to increase the dose a bit and now, in June 2015, I’m on 12 mg Fluoxetine (3.0 ml) which equals about 40 mg Venlafaxine. Not sure that this was the right move, but all previous attempts to go lower than 40 mg Venlafaxine has failed miserably and resulted in reinstating. The main drawback with Fluoxetine compared to Venlafaxine, is that it makes me very tired. The fatigue is constant and the energy levels way below normal. I feel like sleeping all the time. To deal with the lows I occasionally self medicate with the pain medication Tramadol, that clearly boost the serotonin levels. Try to not take it more than once a week, since it's easy to get dependent. I occasionally take other substances too, but never with such a frequency that they become problems. I know my limits in that area. I drink alcohol but not more than once a week and never more than a few glasses. To handle the anxiety i self medicate with Diazepam (Valium) or Alprazolam (Xanax). The last 2-3 months I have been taking between 2 and 5 mg Diazepam every other day. This is way to too frequent, and I’m clearly become dependent on the benzo now. This has happened before and I am slowly tapering the Diazepam. Currently taking about 1 mg per day. My main non-chemical weapon against the anxiety is the meditative relaxing audios from excelatlife.com and the headspace.com meditations, that I do on a daily basis. Recently I have started doing the “mixing the cake batter” anti-anxiety exercise that seem so help. I am not into supplements. Have tried both Vitamin E, Omega 3 and Magnesium at different occasions, but not found that it makes any kind of difference at all. At the moment I’m suffering quite a bit from both anxiety (mostly in the morning), mood swings, general nervousness, fatigue, memory loss and lack of motivation. Not sure what is related to the meds and what is new emotions emerging from the low dosage of SSRI. Sleep is one of the things that works fine though. I’m not giving up this time. I will follow through even if it takes several more years. Not sure how often I will update this journal or if I will get involved in the discussion on this site. Based on all my failed attempts to taper I do however believe it is very important to both give and receive support from others in the same situation. A big thank you to all the people who contribute to this site! You save lives.
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